This story takes place far away from home, but it's part of a growing trend toward high stakes test skepticism we're seeing in Arizona and around the country.
New York's new State Chancellor of Education is Betty A. Rosa, a former New York City principal and superintendent. Unlike our Superintendent of Public Ed, NY's Chancellor isn't elected by the voters. She was elected by her fellow members of the State Board of Regents, a 17 member board elected by the state legislature. Her predecessor was big on state testing and instituted some of the nation's first Common Core-based tests.
She was also a big believer in using test scores to evaluate teachers. The student failure rate on state testing skyrocketed under his tenure, much like it did with Arizona's new 2015 tests, and the teacher evaluation based on the scores punished teachers of students from low income homes and was unreliable to the point of seeming almost random.
Rosa takes a very different position
Dr. Rosa has criticized the new, more difficult tests that the state introduced under her predecessor, Merryl H. Tisch, as part of its transition to the Common Core standards. She has suggested that the tests were designed so that many students would fail, giving policy makers a chance to point to a crisis in the state’s schools. On Monday, she said that if she had children in the grades taking the exams, she would have them sit out the tests, as the parents of more than 200,000 students did last year.
At the end of last year, the Regents put a four year moratorium on using student test scores in teacher evaluations.
After a fifteen year run beginning with No Child Left Behind, the national nightmare of our high stakes testing mania may have crested. We may be moving toward a saner view of the value of standardized testing in education. The opt out movement, which is part of the reaction to the overemphasis on testing, is very large in New York and growing across the country. Two bills allowing parents to opt their children out of state testing were knocked down in the Arizona legislature this year, but the issue will keep on popping up. Our new law allowing schools to choose from a cafeteria menu of tests indicates a skepticism toward the one-size-fits-all testing regimen.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story misgendered Merryl H. Tisch. This version has been corrected.